What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 December 2009

Happy 2010

As I spend my New Year's Eve watching large amounts of Lord of the Rings and making comments about Legolas' hair, I'll also be contemplating my New Year's Resolutions.

Specifically, how I'll decide them on New Year's Day. Yep, my first resolution is to procrastinate in the area of making resolutions.

Check back here tomorrow to see if I've decided anything. And the happiest (and safest) of New Years to you all.

30 December 2009

Six Miles To Go

I'm proclaiming this to the entire universe, in the hopes that the universe will provide me with the needed motivation.

My cycling goal for this year was 800 miles. As of right now, December 30th, I am sitting at 794.

I need six more miles to reach my goal. I live three miles from my office. I think you see where this is going.

Yes! All I need to do is ride my bike to and from work tomorrow, and I WIN!!!

(I don't know what I win; more on that later.)

None of my Business.

I have a long list of things that are none of my business.

You see, putting most of the universe into the "not my business" bucket is pretty close to putting it into "not my problem". A category that I like things living in.

Some might call it laziness. They would be correct.

But it's also emotional protection for me. There are some who get up in arms & extremely involved in Every. Little. Thing. I can't do it; I don't have that much emotional energy. My way is much easier! Michael Phelps doing drugs? None of my business. One of the Bush daughters drinking? Also none of my business. Tiger Woods dallying? Certainly none of my business, and I'll thank you to stop reporting on it, Every Single Network! Private lives of my coworkers? I may need to take my earplugs to work with me.

What is my business? Caring about my friends. Being aware of those around me. Showing kindness. Doing my job without causing a fuss. Loving others. Acting like Jesus.

Turns out there are a lot of things that are my business, after all.

29 December 2009

No thanks, I don't need any.

So, in case you hadn't noticed, public figures are rather polarising.

Of course you've noticed. Things that live under rocks have noticed. The veggies in my crisper drawer have noticed, although they may be more concerned with their own immediate future.

The head coach of the Texas Tech football team is in some hot water. I couldn't even tell you why, because I haven't bothered to look it up. The comments on Facebook are rampant. I've heard ESPN has picked it up.

I'm not a fan. It matters not to me. I'm just amazed that once again, people have joined up on both sides. Some are screaming for the coach's head; others are screaming for the university administrators' heads. (Truth be told, none of said heads would look that great on a spike.) Students are complaining about the player that triggered it all; fans are threatening to change teams; others are wondering why an adult, college student or not, needs his parents to call the school and complain on his behalf.

The coach, when deciding his career path, probably knew that an incident like this would come up. He chose to coach anyway. He chose to do what he enjoyed for a living. (I'm sure the potential for cash and some TV time didn't hurt his decision in any way.)

And he is, no matter how you look at it, a small-scale celebrity. What about those who choose to go into politics? Acting? Professional sports? (Anyone have an opinion on Tiger Woods?)

Geez. No thanks, I like being anonymous. I like it that people don't line up to praise or denounce every word that comes out of my mouth. (I get enough of that with a handful of people at work.) I can't imagine liking it.

And I guess that's why I'm not famous.

28 December 2009

Christmas Eve

Yeah. I mentioned that a cold front came in on Wednesday night, bringing rain, then snow, and some ice.

I still had to go out and buy our Christmas dinner. After giving it some thought, I decided to avoid the massive and panic-stricken crowds (that's what happens when we have snow in Lubbock) that were sure to be at the stores, and instead take my chances with the snow on Thursday.

So Thursday morning, we had to dig the car out, defrost, scrape off the ice, etc, etc, try to help a neighbour who was stuck in the parking lot, and then I went on my merry way. I had no idea, until Thursday, just how helpful it is to have a standard transmission when the roads are icy.

So the store, and the post office, were both as empty as I had hoped they would be. Alas, the same cannot be said for the streets, which had plenty of people willing to drive 5 mph all over them. But hey, I got out, got our food, mailed our packages, and got home without incident.

And since I won the drawing at work on Wednesday, our Christmas dinner was free. Brilliant!

Running & Sliding

I had a couple of amusing runs last week.

(Now, there's a sentence that can be taken a lot of ways.)

On Wednesday evening, there was a cold front on its way in, and the rain came first. I still had to go running, rain and falling temps notwithstanding. So, we bundled up & out we went. It was a pretty slow run, owing to the need to go around puddles & mud slicks. At the end, despite all our best efforts, we were soaked, muddy and cold. And extremely pleased with ourselves.

And I also had to get a run in on Christmas day, when there was still plenty of residual snow & ice from the said cold front, which did manage to arrive successfully Wednesday night. And I wanted to go running in the snow while we still could. This one was equally fun, complete with skirting around icy patches, jumping over puddles, and running in all the fresh (and, in a couple of places, deep) snow that we could. Fun, fun, fun.

Unfortunately, it all ended ingloriously when Chad fell down & injured something. Fortunately, we were very near our house, and as we walked (or hobbled) back home, I said, "You know, I thought I would be the one to fall down."

He said, "Yeah, me too."

27 December 2009

Bah. Humbug.

So, having now reached the full measure of my holiday commentary, let me just delve into Christmases past for my own amusement.

My father is not big on Christmas. He has his reasons for this, but the only years that he actually seemed to enjoy Christmas were the years when he had preschool children in his house.

It's not too well-known that the Grinch has a brother, generally known as the Grunch. Rather than settling near Hooville with his brother (who he couldn't stand, anyway), the Grunch decided to live a life of relative obscurity in Greenfield, Indiana, and raise a family. He tried, he really did, to get into Christmas and indeed all holidays, but alas, when there were no small children to bring him amusement any longer, his Grunch-like ways resumed.

He didn't want to get a Christmas tree. He didn't like singing Christmas carols. He really didn't like having to go to school Christmas programmes. All the normal television was messed up for Christmas. What's more, he didn't always get to take his vacation time during Christmas, and when he did, it was usually too cold to do any projects around the house that he wanted to do, so he was stuck inside playing board games with the Grunch children. Boring board games. He did enjoy watching A Christmas Carol so he could "humbug" right along with Mr. Scrooge, and certainly enjoyed Christmas Vacation, just so he could have a laugh.

So, after being raised by such a Grunch, what's a Grunch child to do? I've tried going overboard for Christmas. I've tried going underboard for Christmas. But we've pretty much settled on this easygoing, lighthearted celebration that Chad & I now enjoy.

But beware; one never knows when I might go Griswold all over my house. Or Grunchy.

26 December 2009

It's too late this year. (Part 6)

Happy Boxing Day!

So, in my quest to share my take on the great holiday debate, I've covered the lazy people (that's me!), and the Merry Christmas people. I'm not going to bother with the mean-spirited, anti-Christmas people. They may exist, but if they do, I don't really want to give them airspace on my blog. I think Charles Dickens already did a nice job of covering them, anyway.

And as for the "What's all the fuss about?" crowd, well, I used to be one of them. Then my Merry Christmas friends enlightened me, thus prompting my move to the lazy group. I am supremely happy there.

So, now let's get to the other December holidays. Since it starts today, I'll just mention Kwanzaa. Happy Kwanzaa! If I were to take the view that Kwanzaa started out as an anti-Jesus holiday, well, I'd also have to take the view that Christmas did, too. I think the celebration of Kwanzaa is fantastic, and if I were ever invited to take part, I would do. So there ya go.

Then there's Advent. Oh, look I jumped back to Christian holidays again! I don't belong to a high church, so I don't do the community Advent activities (hanging of the greens and so on). And I think that's a big reason why I know so many people who are bent on "putting Jesus back in Christmas". If we just celebrated Advent like the rest of Christendom, we could probably rest happily in the knowledge that we were celebrating Jesus throughout December.

Anyway, I also think Advent is great. I did the readings this year, but not the candles; maybe for 2010 we will get a candle and a wreath and Chad & I will do Advent together. Perhaps we'll even invite our friends to join in.

And finally, Hanukkah. There are a lot of Jewish holidays that I think Christians should pay more attention to, and this is one of them. I don't intend to ever celebrate Hanukkah exactly as Jews do, nor do I think I should; that borders on disrespect, to my way of thinking. However, it does stand as a celebration of God saving his people again from those who would destroy them. And in an era when many Christians worry that the world would gladly be rid of us (and some of them would!), it is comforting to look to the Festival of Lights and recall that particular time the the Lord rescued his people. I neglected to buy a Menorah before Hanukkah began this year, and of course it is now much too late. But this is a tradition I would like to give to my children.

Between lighting candles for Advent and lighting candles for Hanukkah, I can see a lot of fire in my future. Happy Holidays, once again.

25 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Eighth anniversary: 7 days
Loop the Lake: 15 days
Vancouver Olympics: 48 days
Austin Marathon: 50 days
First Day of Spring: 85 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 92 days

... And all heaven broke loose. (Parts 2 - 5)

There are a lot of people who I love very dearly who go completely insane between Thanksgiving and New Year.

They are the "Merry Christmas!" people.

You've probably received at least one email from at least one of them, warning you about the dire plot to take Christ out of Christmas. They might list stores to avoid or ways to "win" over the "Happy Holidays" people.

And I certainly respect their right to feel this way, act this way, shop this way, etc. I just wish they wouldn't spill it on me so often. And I get a bit confused sometimes, because I belong to a conservative Protestant denomination that for the first 18 of my life told me that Christmas is not a Christian holiday.

Then I turned 18 and all heaven broke loose. (Yeah, I thought that would be a good title.) It would seem that we have changed our collective mind.

So, at the risk of losing all six of my followers & probably any friends/acquaintances/strangers that may come along, here are my suggestions for keeping Christ in Christmas (broken into three separate posts for your reading convenience).

1. Tone down the gift-giving.

I'm not a parent, but I used to be a kid. And most of my friends are parents. And I have read one article after another in one magazine after another about "How do I keep my kid from being so selfish around Christmas?" And heard my aforementioned friends moaning about the same thing. And hey, I remember making my own Christmas list every year as a kid, too.

Call me crazy, but I'd say the way to keep your kid (and yourself) from a) acting selfish b) focusing entirely on Santa or c) completely forgetting about Jesus is: Don't encourage the opposite. I know a handful of families who have managed to do this. I'm looking forward to trying it myself.

Besides, it hardly adds to our reputation among the world for Christians to go to the store, buy hundreds of dollars' worth of stuff that the kids will play with a few times, then berate the clerk for saying "Happy Holidays".

On the other hand, a "Merry Christmas!" or "God bless you!" in reply, given with a cheery smile and sincerely meant, and certainly accompanied by a "Thank you!", might just go a long way.

2. Bar Santa from the house.

Yep, here's the unpopular one. And I admit if you have children between 3 and 10-ish who have always had Santa, this is probably not a route you will be able/willing to take. But you know the families I mentioned in idea #1? Yeah, they do this, too.

Seriously, I get so annoyed at people who lament a) the condition our country is in b) how sad it is that we don't acknowledge Jesus at Christmas any longer and/or c) how materialistic the U.S. has become, then follow it all up by showing me pics of their kids with Santa. I smile and nod, but inside I'm screaming: You can't have it both ways!!! And I really believe that you can't.

And this one does have some personal experience attached: I was so devastated when I found out about Santa. I held on to believing for a long time-- much longer than kids normally do-- because I didn't think my parents would tell me something that wasn't true. I was really upset when I found out that Oh, yes, they would. I just don't see how I can expect my children to accept that Santa is a story but Jesus is real, when I spend the first few years of their life presenting both as the truth. It works for some, apparently, but I'm not one of them.

3. Really celebrate Jesus.

See? An easy one! Celebrate Advent in your house. Take your kids shopping for needy families, instead of for themselves. Give them money to put in the Salvation Army boxes. Put a nativity scene in your yard (or better yet, your living room). Talk about Hanukkah when it comes around, and what it means for both Jews and Christians. Read Luke 2 & The Gift of the Magi on Christmas Eve. Go to a Christmas Eve service. And so on, and on, and on...

Jesus is not the reason for the season, for the Christian; Jesus is The Reason. For everything. We don't have to put Christ in Christmas if he is already a year-round part of our lives.

May the Lord bless and keep you as you celebrate today and every day.

Happy Holidays! (Part 1)

So I have, once again, heard the opinion of everyone around me. This seems to happen a lot.

And this time around, it's about what we call this special time of year.

You see, some of the PC, or non-celebrating, or just plain lazy among us like to say "Happy Holidays". I'm sure there are even some mean-spirited, anti-Christianity, or just-plain-grumpy people who do the same thing out of the meanness of their hearts.

And in the other corner are the people who will beat the living daylights out of you, or would, if not for fear of being sued, if you don't say "Merry Christmas" at Every. Last. Opportunity.

Then, there are those in the middle, who can't for the life of them understand what the fuss is about but do wish you would just pay for your shopping and move on, so they can do the same.

Put me in the "lazy" group.

You see, in a period of five or six weeks, we have Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas Day (if you are into that sort of thing), the Immaculate Conception (likewise), Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day. That is a LOT of holidays in a short time, and I'd like for you to enjoy all of them. Therefore, when I say, "Happy Holidays!" it is not because I don't love Jesus, it's because I love you. And I don't want to take up five minutes of your time listing all the holidays that I hope are happy for you. And those are merely the Christian & secular holidays; I didn't even mention the "other" holidays happening during the same time. (I'll save those for later.)

Therefore, it is with the sincerest desire to not waste any more of your time that I say, Have a very Happy Holiday today. And tomorrow. And twice next week.

24 December 2009

Race Recap

Yep, it's Christmas Eve, there is snow on the ground, I've been baking all day, and all I can think about is how I haven't informed the world about my race two weeks ago. You gotta have priorities, after all.

So! To begin, we were car-free that weekend; the One Car needed to go in for repair, or else it was in danger of becoming the One Heap of Metal. Sarah agreed to ferry us to the race.

Before the race started, one of the board members stopped me to ask, "What size do you want for you 66-Mile t-shirt?" Ah, one of my favourite questions. Why, yes, I will take that t-shirt, thank you! I barely made it this year-- I needed that last race to get me there-- but hey, the rule is that you have to run 66 miles in WTRC races, and I ran 66.25 in 2009.

This is the race where last year I passed a couple of the Marines who were running with us. This year, they didn't run; I think they had a TON of Toys for Tots events happening that day & had to leave early. Regardless, I was just planning to have fun & not worry about my time-- this is a tough course, with the most serious hills we can find in Lubbock.

And, we all know what happens when I have a fun race & don't worry about my time: I set a new PR! Yep, sure did! And, of course, I didn't know it until much later that evening, when I finally got around to putting the race in my running log. Cool.

And, Sarah & I both got a medal, which was really nice. And we got some t-shirts that proudly shout, "I Ran with the U.S. Marines", even though we technically didn't, as aforementioned.

And most importantly of all, tomorrow morning some kids in Lubbock who might otherwise not have gotten anything from Santa will have a few new toys, thanks to the U.S. Marines. Semper Fi.

19 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Man, I missed a week.

Christmas: 7 days (Holy holiday sales, Batman!)
Eighth anniversary: 14 days
Loop the Lake: 22 days
Vancouver Olympics: 55 days
Austin Marathon: 57 days
First Day of Spring: 92 days
The Great H.O.G.G. Race: 99 days

16 December 2009

Make it Meaningful

I don't want to say I'm feeling rebuked right now, because that isn't the right word. Challenged, perhaps. Sad, certainly.

Chad & I strive to be content with what we have, and make good use of our resources. And yet, after reading these two blogs, I feel like we have far too much stuff.

Shaun Groves is a musician who works for Compassion International. He tells people about needy children everywhere he goes, and gives his audiences the chance to share from their excesses (and sometimes, from their too-tight budgets) and bless children who couldn't dream of having a fraction of what we have. Mr. Groves took a Compassion trip to India last summer, and mentioned how he hates to get new stuff after he's been on one of the trips because he has seen the poverty of others. All I did was read along, and I feel the same way.

And speaking of feeling the same way... Trey Morgan just got back from Honduras. He helped stage a banquet for people who live in a dump, searching for scraps of trash to live on.

This comes on top of reading an Unclutterer article about minimalist living a yesterday. While I'm not into minimalism for its own sake, I take the three things together (I did read them within a couple of days of each other, after all) and start to think that I could get rid of a lot of my stuff. And move into a smaller space. And spend less on rent, heat, and possessions. And sponsor as many kids through Compassion or through Trey's connections in Honduras or through Casa de la Esperanza in Mexico or through the Children's Home of Lubbock... as many as we possibly can.

And so with that thought, I share a video that Keely-- and many others-- have shared on Facebook.

15 December 2009

TSO = They're So... um...

Dang! Why couldn't it be TSA? Then my title could be, "They're So Awesome". (Or "Amazing".)I'll have to think about a good "O" adjective. ("Outstanding", perhaps?)

So! After energetically tweeting my enthusiasm for all the world to read all day long on Thursday, we saw the real, live Trans-Siberian Orchestra on Thursday night. Sort of. We were a looooooong way from the stage. But no matter; the sound & light systems worked just fine.

There really aren't a lot of words for how spectacular this concert really was. "Wow. I tell you what, Wow!" That pretty much sums it up. The light show was so uber-fantastic; it was a bit like being stuck inside one of those lightning ball things. You know, the ones you put your fingers on & get the static electricity all going crazy? Those. Only in a wide variety of colours.

There was also some fire, which we could feel the heat of all the way up in the ceiling where we were sitting. Pretty dang impressive.

The singers? Crazy-amazing. Violinists? Uber-energetic. Guitarists? Super-fantastic. Keyboard? Drums? Light crew? Ditto. I'm surprised smoke didn't come off the keyboarder's fingers, she was playing that thing so fast & furious.

So it was getting kind of late, and the lead singer said something along the lines of, "I know it's a school night, but... Wanna hang out?" Of course, the arena screams. "Whaddya say, a couple of more songs?" More screaming ensues... and TSO crashes into "Wizards In Winter". And the arena goes wild once more. I admit it, I screamed & clapped, too.

Come back soon, TSO!! I miss you already, and your CDs don't quite cut it for me now.

Favourite Little Sister

So, my baby sister is 27. Sheesh.

She is beautiful, she is sweet, she is kind, she is hardworking, she is addicted to Stargate. She makes me laugh, she makes me smile, she makes me crazy. I couldn't imagine my life without her.

And apparently I'm responsible for all her brain damage, since when she was born I thought she was one of my dolls, and would carry her around until our mother rescued her from having the oxygen to her brain cut off. Sorry, Neesee!

(Michael Shanks, if you are reading this blog, my sister would like your autograph. Thank you.)

Happy birthday, my favourite little sister.

14 December 2009

62 Days

More accurately, 1497 hours and 48 minutes.

Yep, that's how long I have until the gun goes off at the Austin Marathon. And all I have to say is: Yikes!!

I'm excited. I am so, so excited. Part of me can hardly wait.

Another part of me (specifically, the parts that are still hurting after yesterday's 18-miler) wishes I still had about six months to go.

Next Sunday, I run my first 20-mile training run. I'm torn between absolutely dreading the pain that goes with that kind of mileage, and exhilaration at the fact that I can actually do it. How did this happen? Seriously, I was the fat & slow girl who ran like a duck in P.E. People quacked behind me in the school hallways for four years. (Okay, I still run like a duck. And Chad brings back fond memories by quacking when he runs behind me.)

I've heard (from other runners) that getting into the hard part of marathon training makes you a complete germaphobe. And oh my goodness, is it ever happening to me. I am very much a "rub some dirt on it" kind of girl, but I'm already planning my all-out assault on all germs in my vicinity for the next two months. If you're sick, I'm very sorry to hear it; please stay back 100 yards. Don't even think the word "sneeze" while reading my blog.

No worries, I'll be back to my germ-tolerating self on February 15th. Until then, watch me become ever more crazy. 1497 hours, 42 minutes.

08 December 2009

He lives in you

So I think a lot about creativity.

This is due in large part to my own desire to create things, of course. New baby? I have just the cross-stitch for you. You need a blanket? I'm on it. You have multi-coloured paper, fun scissors, and stamps? One birthday card, coming up. Your door needs a Christmas wreath? No problem.

You want me to draw you a picture? I hope you like stick figures.

This is, after all, the way I show my affection for people: I make them things. I may think you are the greatest person on the planet, but it's not likely I'll ever say so. No, instead I'll cross-stitch you something cute and write a nice card, and stick it in your car when you're not looking. Yeah, I'm that kind of reserved. Sorry, I'm doing my best to be an extrovert.

And being a person of faith, I know the source of all this creativity. The God who made the sky blue and the trees green and the snow white and the flowers in all colours gave the same zest for making things to me. He made us in his image, but that's doesn't mean we are all alike: my creativity manifests itself in crafts. Other people have paintings or music or basketball or working on cars or programming computers or writing or teaching or cooking or acting or dancing... and the list goes on. And it all springs from a God who loves creativity.

You don't have to agree (and goodness knows there are plenty who don't!). But when I see the spark of the creative in you, I see the Lord. And I hope he is shining through me, too.

04 December 2009

Friday Countdown

Redline 4 Mile: 8 days
Trans-Siberian Orchestra: 6 days
Christmas: 21 days
Anniversary: 28 days
Vancouver Olympics: 69 days
Austin Marathon: 71 days

01 December 2009

I'm awake, alert, alive, enthusiastic...

Okay, I'm only one of those things. You may choose which one, if you like.

I took the morning off work, just because I can. And guess what time I woke up? 6:30. Yep, could have slept to 11, but my brain was all spinning again at 6:30 AM. Aaaargh.

So, I have cookbooks to sort through, pics to upload, an apartment to clean, and running to do. I am not in any way going to attempt to do all those things before noon. Also, I keep reading that there is snow outside, but so far it isn't showing its very cold face around here.

So, Happy Tuesday!

The last post of November.

And by golly, I'd better hurry.

I have lots of caffeine in my system, which is the result drinking so much caffeinated tea today, which is due to MANY days with not enough sleep. Man, I love sleep. I'll be glad to have that back.

I always have fun at the tea. I mean, I get the microphone. What isn't fun about that? The centre of attention is a fun place to be for us narcissistic types. :) I can't believe I'm the same girl who used to hide behind people & wouldn't raise my hand in class for fear I'd actually have to say something.

Anyway... speaking of narcissists... yeah. Where was I? The tea. So it's fun for me regardless. I hope it is that much fun for everyone else, too.

Tonight, we had so many people, it took about 45 minutes to get them through the food line. Which put us 30 minutes behind. So, we had to cut a game and some singing. Which was a real bummer.

And... this was my last time. I announced that next year, we need a new chairwoman. It is hard letting it go-- after all, this has been my baby for three years running now-- but it's time for someone with more ideas to get a chance. And this time next year, there is no telling what I will be doing.

I love South Plains. I love the Womens' Ministry. I really, really love the Ladies' Tea. But I hope someone else can take it and make it even better.

And I made Ruth promise that South Plains won't have another five-year hiatus between teas. Because the last gap was much, much too long.

29 November 2009

The board is set, the pieces are moving.

Okay, I admit: I'm not Gandalf. I'm not directing an army in the great battle of our time. So perhaps the chess metaphors are a bit much.

However! The Family Life Center is set up, with 20 tables (!) for adults, three for children, and a few to hold prizes, just for fun. Thanks to the efforts of the most fantabulous tea committee ever assembled, the room looks very Christmas-y indeed. We even have a red carpet laid down, to let our guests know how special they are.

Just over 21 hours until we launch... the only thing remaining is for me to not say anything stupid. That may be asking too much in just 21 hours.

Angels? We have (a) herd.

You can almost see Ruth & I in this picture. Yep, the red carpet ends at us. Aren't you lucky?

28 November 2009

Thanksgiving is Great for Running

So, if you've tuned in this long, you know that me running a race = a race recap is forthcoming. And I hate to disappoint my fan. ;)

Before writing this, I went back and checked out my race recap from the Turkey Trot in 2007. I have not in any way forgotten that race; I was cold, sore, and miserable, not to mention painfully slow-moving. But when I reread my thoughts from the next day, all I can think is "Wow." We were brand-new to the club then; we only knew a few people; and I wasn't thinking of ever running anything longer than 10 miles (if that!). And most astonishing of all, I had only run about 6 1/2 miles in one go before that race, and my longest race to date had been a 5K. Our running, our friendships with others in the club, and our (okay, my-- Chad already had his sights on a half-marathon at this point) ideas of how far we can run have changed dramatically in the past two years. I don't know that I've ever had any area of my life change that much in such a short time... and yet, here I am!

So, race recap... Sarah & I ran together again. I'm a bit wary of running with others, just because I hate to slow anyone else down. (And Sarah has longer legs than I do; it's not likely she'll ever slow me down!) We went out too fast, as I ever do, so I did have to slow it up a bit in the middle.

Hills! My goodness, there were a bunch! Okay, this was not a surprise, but I've not been training on hills, because I'm silly, so I was having to chant "up and over" to myself a lot. Admittedly, these hills were easier than the ones I ran on two weeks ago.

So, there is one hill leading to the final turnaround, with less than a mile to go. I think it's probably the easiest hill in the entire course, but coming at the end, it's still tiring and a bit discouraging to anyone who is already struggling. Thankfully, this was not me this time around, because I was wearing a watch and was elated at how fast we were running without me wanting to drop down dead. So we got up & over, and I said hello to Chad at the turnaround (he was volunteering) and then threw my gloves to him, because I was done with them.

Coming down the hill was fantastic. First, running downhill is just fun. Second, there were a lot of people behind us. A lot. Normally, this is not something I rejoice in (because I've had my share of races when I am dead last or pretty close to it), but I was amazed. Third, we were nearly done. So, I've got a big silly grin on my face, and I was shouting encouragement (I thought) to those still struggling to get up to the top. I yelled "Almost there!" to a group of women who were most emphatically not grinning, meaning they were almost to the turnaround. One of them shouted back, "We are not!" so I guess she didn't appreciate my encouragment.

It's kind of an annoying thing to runners that people shout "Almost there!" at dumb moments, like mile 16 of a marathon (10 miles to go), or the 10K point of a half marathon (not even halfway!). But really, with less than a mile to go, you ARE almost there. So, I'm not sure why this poor woman wasted her breath to answer me back.

The next group of runners seemed a bit happier, so when I told them "Last hill!" I got a "Woohoo" in return. Okay, they had much more breath left than I did. :)

So, down the hill, round the corner, under the bridge, into a parking lot, and over the finish line with Scotland the Brave playing in my ears. And a 14-minute PR for me. No medals this time, but I got 1 point in the challenge series! Woo hoo! Actually, the 3rd place plaque in the 30-34 age group is solidly mine; the woman in 4th place doesn't have enough races left to catch me in the points. Now, I am going for another 66-Mile Club t-shirt. I have 3.75 miles to go; we have one 4-mile race remaining. Talk about cutting it close.

Oh, Christmas Tea

So, with over 100 RSVPs (and counting), half-a-dozen door prizes, a committee that still seems okay with my high level of frazzledness, and a couple of days to go, the Christmas Tea is marching ever closer.

The most we've ever had RSVP ahead of time is about 55. The most we've had turn up is about 85. Part of me is worried we won't have enough tables set up, while the rest of me is concerned about a lot of empty tables staring at me come Monday night.

The food will be good, the fellowship will be sweet, the games will be fun, the laughter will be, um, hysterical, if the past couple of years are anything to go by-- and in the meantime, I will be in high-stress mode.

Stay tuned... it's coming faster than I would like.

27 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Christmas tea: 3 DAYS!!!
Redline 4-mile race: 15 days
Christmas: 28 days
Anniversary: 35 days
Vancouver Olympics: 76 days
Austin Marathon: 78 days

Farther along (I think)

Language is kind of a hobby of mine.

It's not a hobby I give a lot of time to, mind you, but I do find so many things about languages fascinating. How they evolve, how they work, what makes this word better than that one, and so on-- it's all interesting. Here's a fun one for you: When I was learning Scots Gaelic, I learnt the phrase "Is math sin", which is pronounced "Ish ma shin", which sounds like "Smashing", which in Scotland is slang for "Good", which just happens to be what "Is math sin" means. Cool, eh?

As it happens, English is the language I have the most fun with, being as it is my native language and all. I've never had to work hard at English, which I'm pretty sure annoys other people to no end, but it's easy for me. (Hey, I have to put hours and hours into maths & sciences. Leave me alone.)

And therefore, it annoys me that I have a hard time with "farther" and "further". This is not an uncommon struggle; you will find this pairing on most lists of frequently confused words. But, I'm not used to confusing words. Give me "affect" and "effect" or "lie" and "lay" any day, and I've got you covered. And even more annoying is this: I know the difference between "farther" (refers to literal distance) and "further" (refers to figurative distance or degree) perfectly well; it's when applying them in everyday speech & writing that I have issues.

So here is where the real problem lies: I've never had to work at English, so I've no idea how to imprint all this knowledge onto my brain in order to make it habit. Sigh.

26 November 2009

Do Dooo Do Do Do... BN BN

Yeah, so that title will probably make sense to no one but me. Here's the short version: It was an advert in Britain about 10 years ago for cookies called BN. And that's what I think of whenever I see Barnes & Noble's abbreviation.

So, Barnes & Noble! Yeah, we got a new one, just about a quarter mile north of where the old one was. The new one has two floors, comfy-looking chairs (I didn't actually try any of them), free wifi, and the ubiquitous Starbucks (didn't try that, either). Oh, and one long escalator just going up, and one even longer coming down. And, as a bonus, there is a mall outside their doors, too.

So, I wandered over to the running section first, as it my wont, and found an amusing little book called I Run, Therefore I Am- Nuts. I think I'll have to buy that book; it made me giggle a lot just from the couple of chapters I read. After a casual wander round the ground floor (which included spotting The Book of Completely Useless Information, or something like that-- story of my life), I took the escalator up. I wanted to take the stairs, but, um, there weren't any.

I then hit all the other high points of any visit to a bookstore-- the craft section (which looked exactly like a craft section should, by the way; all the books are different sizes, so there was no nice & tidy sitting evenly on the shelf here), the scifi section (which has the largest selection of Terry Pratchett books I've ever seen outside of the UK), and the children's section (alas, here I was disappointed).

Unless I am very much mistaken, the children's section was pretty much the same as in the old store. I was hoping for more, but-- no. Sigh. And the Spanish children's books had just as meager a selection as before. I'm thinking I'll have to make a trip to Mexico to get children's books in Spanish that don't include Dora.

Also, I saw a book called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Now, if that isn't a winner, I don't know what is.

25 November 2009

Sesame Street...

... turned 40.

It's a bit odd for me to think of this show that has be so influential in the lives of millions of children as being 40 years old. Firstly, I think, "Only 40 years? Really? How is it that no one thought of this programme before 1969?" But my next thought is, "Forty years? But it still seems so new!"

And I imagine both thoughts are correct.

Since I have younger siblings, I watched Sesame Street much longer than is the "norm". Which means that when I run across an episode, it's like seeing childhood friends from school, rather than half-remembered preschool pals. Gordon and Susan, Mr. Hooper, Luis and Maria, Bob, Linda-- put me in a room with these people, and I'd be as delirious as a tween seeing the cast of New Moon. By golly, you'd better have something handy for them to autograph.

And the Muppets-- holy smokes. I have too many favourites. My Sesame Street days pre-dated Elmo by quite a bit, although I do remember when Snuffy might have been Big Bird's imaginary friend. Oscar, Grover, Bert & Ernie, Guy Smiley, Prairie Dawn, Kermit, Count, The Two-Headed Monster-- I love them all. My favourite, though-- my absolute, unmistakable, could-watch-these-guys-all-day favourites are the Yip Yips. I have days when I approach the entire world pretty much like the Yip Yips: "Not home. Nope. Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip uh-huh." I can see my work environment getting suddenly more entertaining if I spoke to my coworkers that way.

And then there were the cartoons. Teeny Little Super Guy, The Typewriter, the Pinball machine that counted to 12-- I still can't count to 12 without singing the song. And who could ever forget "a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter."

I hope this show lasts to its 100th anniversary-- and beyond.

24 November 2009

Monday, Monday

All good things must come to an end, including a free weekend trip to see Peter Pan and approximately 200 other people in the process.

So, I had one final morning of sleeping in (man, do I miss that!) before heading out for another round of visits-- this time, it was the shops that had my attention. Marsh had the Snapple I wanted (By the way, best stuff on Earth? They aren't kidding!); Wal-Mart had the Tetley. So, we had to go to both. And the very friendly cashier at WM took a huge step over the gulf that has long existed between me and nationwide chain stores (and Wal-Mart in particular) when, upon noticing that I had enough Tetley to last me for the next six months, she said, "Now, did you know you can order anything at Wal-Mart and have it shipped to your local store?"

As it happens, I did know that, but it had never occured to me that they meant tea when they said that; I though it was stuff like flat-panel TVs. No, apparently I can get myself a box of Tetley delivered to my Lubbock WM, which for me is so local that it is within walking distance. Brilliant.

So after this jolly discovery, we took Grandma back home, and tried to go see another of our three dozen cousins, but we had no luck, because she works nights & was sound asleep when we went to her house. This is probably just as well, really; I would feel pretty guilty getting her up for 20 minutes' worth of chitchat.

After that, it was a whirl of throwing all my stuff back into the suitcase, saying goodbye & thank you to Grandma, and loading it all up in Dad's truck. Then we had to go to Mum's work to say goodbye to her (and I got to meet the boss), then a stop by McDonald's so Denise could deliver something & we could get some lunch, then off to the airport. By the way, Indianapolis has a beautiful airport.

The security people stopped me so they could measure my scissors! Man, all the fun stuff happens to me at airport security.

Northwest Airlines sent me to Detroit first, for reasons passing understanding. I have to say that while I would have preferred a more direct route, it was worth it (almost) to have a look at the Detroit airport. Another beautiful building. I walked the entire length of Terminal A because I had three hours to just hang out.

And whatever my grievances against Northwest Airlines (and believe me, I have a list), their pilots are brilliantly good at landing. Every landing I experienced this weekend was so very smooth, and a couple of them I wasn't sure for a second if we were actually on the ground or if it was just turbulence. That's how smooth it was. This is in contrast to our Continental landing last summer, when I'm pretty sure we were shot down.

23 November 2009

More Saturday, and some Sunday, too.

So, after a successful 15K, I sat around for the rest of the day. Not on purpose, mind you; I thought there was going to be some mall-going, which didn't happen. I did hang out with the kids and get some Christmas tea stuff done. And I discovered that at least one of Grandma's neighbours doesn't protect his/her internet. Thank you, unknown internet user! If not for your selfless silliness, I could never have shown my parents what their house looks like on Google Earth.

Billy wanted pizza for dinner (it was his birthday, after all), so we went to Cici's. This is a favourite of my husband as well as my brother, so I was right at home, but I was not prepared for the awe that my father had for such a thing as pizza buffets. Yeah, he doesn't get out much.

I was all in a dither on Sunday morning, because we normally go to early service, but Greenfield only has one and it is at 10:45. Turns out, I can sleep in with the best of them, but it was still odd for me. Saw friends and loved ones, and heard yet again my favourite thing to hear when visiting this church where I grew up: "You're Billy & Denise's sister? I didn't know they had another sister!" Apparently, my existence is a well-kept secret. At least, that's what Denise said when I asked her why so many people in Greenfield act surprised to meet me.

After some earnest discussion about what to have for lunch (and the rather unhappy discovery that Marsh does not have decaf British Blend Tetley), we landed back at Grandma's eating tacos. Beef tacos, which is odd, again, after eating turkey tacos for the past five or so years.

Then, it was off on a round of visits: Jenny's parents, Billy & the kids (to say goodbye, since I wouldn't see them on Monday), the other Grandma (Dad's mum), then Amanda. Yep, I went to see Amanda at 10 PM. I haven't gone to see anyone at 10 PM since I was an aim student.

And then I went back to Grandma's, annoyed Denise for a few minutes, and went to bed.

22 November 2009


I already gave you the 15K recap, so here's the stuff I left out.

Jennie & I took a wrong turn before we got to the park & had to turn around. You'd think a state park would be better-marked, but you would be wrong. Once we got there, we knew we were in the right place because of the long queue of cars waiting to get in. And there was one lonely park ranger having to take every car's entrance fee & hand out change. Fortunately, he didn't have to give directions, because it was pretty evident where we were supposed to go.

Greenfield-Central (that was my high school, for those keeping score at home) brought five students & four coaches, all of whom ran the 15K. I know this because I spoke to one of the coaches at the start line... and that was the last I saw of any of them. Yep, I'm slow. They were not.

The course was absolutely fantastic. Yeah, I wasn't kidding when I said the hills kicked my bum. But the start was so lovely; all the fall leaves on the ground, the air was fresh, the dew was still on the grass; if I didn't know better, I'd have said it was an April morning, not November. But, it was just over a quarter of a mile into the race when we hit the first uphill, and my word, it never stopped.

The mile markers were spray-painted in orange on the ground. I missed the 1-mile mark because I didn't realise that was what I was supposed to be looking for. The turnaround for the 15K was at a horse barn, and the spray-painter, in what was either a public service or a source of personal amusement for him/her, had circled a rather large pile of horse doo. (Had it been me wielding the can, it would have been entirely for my amusement.)

Jennie, by the way, had a brilliant first 5K. She went into the race thinking that I would be done before her (silly sister-in-law; she thinks I can run fast! Boy, did I show her!), which was kind, but not at all an accurate picture of reality. By her own account, she went out too fast, then hit the first hill. And all the leaves, dirt, and other things that made the morning so fresh & appealing for me caused her allergies to do a fandango inside her lungs, so that she had to slow down quite a bit by mile 3. And then when she did finish, she was stuck standing around waiting for me. But, the running community is nothing if not gregarious (once we all finish running, that is), so by the time I was done she was talking to someone about her shin splints. I still feel bad that I left her in a crowd of strangers for nearly an hour, but I am delighted that she had such an open-arms welcome from other runners, even as Chad & I had two years ago at our own first race.

We got some t-shirts to commemorate our adventure, and stood around for the awards, hoping to snag some door prizes. (No joy there, at least not for me; Jennie got a hat for Billy, 'cause it was much too big for her head.) And on the way home, we stopped for a very tasty drink at Taco Bell. Frutista Freeze, maybe? Great stuff.

21 November 2009

Peter Pan

So, a couple of months ago, before they even had auditions for Peter Pan, Amanda's drama coach mentioned on Facebook the musical version of Peter Pan has never been done in Hancock County. He was wrong, as it happens, but it hasn't been done since 1987, so I suppose he can be excused his little memory lapse. The more so since, as Amanda and Jennie both assure me, he's a great teacher.

We got to the school uber-early, because my family can only show up early for things that it's not actually important that we show up early for. You see, they were under the impression that if we got there early, we could get better seats. I didn't bother telling them that your seat was assigned when you bought the ticket, because experience has taught me that there is no point trying to argue with my father or grandmother. Besides, saying "I told you so" is a lot more fun when I didn't actually tell them so, but they think that I did. Ha!

So, I kept the kids busy by walking laps around the school, regaling them with (really boring) tales from when it was my school, and explaining the things that were different ("This used to be at the other end of the building; through here was tile, not carpet; I used to go to class in that room, back when it was a room", etc.). Then the doors were opened, and in we went. It took a minute to collect Grandma from the wrong side of the room and bring her back to where we belonged, and even longer to get everyone settled, and longer still for the girl in front of Denise & I to believe that we were covering our mouths when we sneezed, and weren't sneezing directly into her hair. (If only I were joking.)

So, the show was fantastic. Peter Pan is very interactive, and this version was no exception; we were drawn into the show with jokes, gags, and pirates running wild through the audience. Amanda, as I already mentioned, was the cutest Indian ever. Plus, she had enough beads on her costume for all the others combined; quite literally, as only one other Indian had any. But, the abundance of beads made it easy for the kids to spot her, since they've only seen her a couple of times & don't really know who she is.

Did I mention the flower? No? Well, there is a very old tradition at GC that the drama parents (or someone) sell flowers for the students. You write a message, hand over a dollar, and the thespian of your choice gets an encouraging (and pretty) message during intermission. Well, that's almost what happened; I guess intermission was busy, none of the students got their flowers, and therefore Amanda didn't know that I was there until after the show, when she saw Grandma waving frantically at her. And me, standing beside Grandma. The look that came over her face was priceless; if only I'd had the camera handy. Surprise!

Also, I had a chance to chat with the choir director, who is one of only a handful of teachers left from my schooldays. (Yep, I finished 'em off!) She thinks Amanda is wonderful, too. And rightly so.

20 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Thanksgiving/Turkey Trot: 6 days
Christmas Tea: 10 days
Redline: 22 days
Christmas: 35 days
Anniversary: 42 days
Olympics: 83 days
Austin Marathon: 85 days


So, I got on an airplane in the wee hours. This is the same flight (sort of-- you get what I mean) that was delayed when I went to Indiana in May, that resulted in me having this free flight in the first place. No such luck this time around-- we took off on time, and I promptly fell asleep, because it was 6 AM, I'd been up since 4:30, and hadn't gone to bed until midnight.

And then I woke up again. Oh, did you think I could sleep on a moving plane? Silly! As soon as the sun came up, I gave up on the whole sleep thing altogether and began working on my wreath. The flight attendant stopped to watch for a second, and said, "I haven't done that in years!" Apparently these peppermint wreaths were quite the rage a decade or so ago. Who knew?

Landed in Memphis, found out my next gate was directly across from my first gate & that I had 45 minutes to go 10 feet, so I went hunting for some food. Met a really nice woman with a beautiful accent who is from Louisiana. (Can I just add that I am meeting people from Louisiana everywhere I go? It's not really a surprise, what with Katrina scattering New Orleans residents all over the map, but I was expecting it to level off by now.)

One more flight, landed in Indy (smoothest landing ever; great job, pilot!), and my bag was already circling the carousel by the time I got down to baggage claim. Collected the bag, Dad and Denise, and then we had an amusing game of I Think We Parked On This Row. Once that was all settled, away we went.

Had lunch at Steak & Shake (and I highly recommend the Guacamole Burger), went to Grandma's, tried to finish one of the quilts, got the thread all jumbled up in the bobbin, and gave it up. Grandma said she would finish them both off for me in time for Christmas. Thanks, Grandma!

Collected the kids, ate some spaghetti (why I can't cook spaghetti like Grandma does I shall never know; she always gets the texture perfect), then got all dressed up for Peter Pan.

19 November 2009


Missed a few days. It happens.

So, I added to my blogroll again (BKing (no, that isn't short for Burger King or biking)-- go check it out), because I can't get enough of other people's words. I'm a reader. I've been a reader for so long, I don't remember not being able to read. (Thank you, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, & Electric Company. Especially Electric Company.) I've always dreamed of being a writer, but the truth is, my best writing has always been tinted with others' words. And I'm pretty sure that's called plagarism. Bummer.

But I look at my blogroll, and see names of people I've known for a long time, some I've known for a short time, and some I'll never know in person. And the name that jumped out at me tonight was Anne Ryder.

She hasn't posted in five months (or so Blogger says). She is a remarkably infrequent poster. I've never met her in person, not even long enough for an autograph. I likely never will. I should, in the interest of tidyness & keeping my blogroll under control, just take her off my list.

But I won't. Because when she posts, it's a good read. (I hope someone feels that way about my blog!) Sometimes, it's pure gold. And even if those things weren't true... she was one of my childhood heroes. Sesame Street characters aside, she may have been my first childhood hero-- and much more so than anyone on Sesame Street, because she is a real person, not a character. And I was still listening to her-- and looking forward to it-- on a daily basis, long after I lost interest in Big Bird and the Teeny Little Super Guy (even though he was pretty cool).

So, blog on, friends and strangers alike. I am waiting to read what you have to say.

16 November 2009


I'm probably going to hear something about this pic-- it is a couple of years old, after all-- but the only other ones I have are from when she was five. I thought this was probably the best I could do.

My littlest cousin is not so little any longer (she's been taller than me since she was, I don't know, 11?), but she is still dear to my heart. She's a band and drama nerd. She is uber-smart. She got her share of the pretty genes, and it's possible that she took mine, too. (I want those back, by the way!) She is cool, she is fun, and she is an all-around lovely person.

And since she is a senior in high school, and this weekend was her last musical in high school, and I had a free ticket on Northwest, I flew up to see Peter Pan. And my littlest cousin takes the "cutest Indian ever" award.

And tonight we watched the Colts win together. I'll add that to my "never thought I'd do that" list. (Watch the Colts, that is.)

14 November 2009


I ran a trail race today.

The race's website rated that hills as a 4 out of 5 on a difficulty scale, and they weren't kidding. They also said that you could stay dry when crossing a creek if you were careful. They may have been kidding about that.

This was my first time running on trails, and I am totally hooked. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of trails to run on in Lubbock.

Anyway, between trying not to fall into any ruts or turn my ankles on loose rocks, and stay out of the way of other runners, I am completely worn out. But hey, I got the PR I was looking for.

13 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Turkey Trot: 13 days
Christmas tea: 17 days
Christmas: 42 days
Anniversary: 49 days
Vancouver Olympics: 90 days
Austin marathon: 92 days

12 November 2009


I do fully intend to devote at least one post in November, and perhaps two or three, to the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street and my celebration thereof. I'm just putting it off to heighten the excitement.

So tonight was Bunko night.

Women in the 1700s had tea parties. In the 1800s, it was quilting bees. In various decades throughout the 1900s, we had home parties for everything under the sun. In the 2000s, for me at least, it's Bunko.

We shriek. We laugh. We cry. We scream. We sing. Sometimes, all at once. The game is really just background for all the conversation going on.

And at the end, we all say goodnight and go home smiling. With prizes, no less.

We could solve a myriad of interpersonal relationship issues with a game of Bunko. Saving the world, one set of dice at a time.

11 November 2009

In Remembrance

I wore a poppy today. All day.

Which meant I also did a lot of explaining today. Because we in the US don't normally see poppies for Veterans' Day, and apparently "In Flanders Fields" is not on the required reading list in Texas schools. (And to judge by at least one comment I heard today, WWI is also not on the curriculum.)

But a local grocery store was handing them out this weekend, and while I missed out on that, I can Google "poppy" with the best of them, print one out, and pin it on. Which is what I did.

Veterans' Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day-- call it what you like. I call it a day for reflection, for sadness and for gratitude. A day to let our soldiers know they are appreciated. A day to honour those who will never hear our thanks. A day for wishing that the "War to End all Wars" had indeed been so. Alas that it was not.

10 November 2009

Keep walking...

I don't understand why people in this country don't walk.

Okay, I do understand it if, like my parents, you live five miles from anything. I understand if you are mobility-impaired. I understand that not everyone can walk everywhere.

I don't understand people for whom the walk from their front door to their mailbox is almost too far.

Yes, this post has been inspired by my lovely walk to work today. And it was so lovely, that I want everyone else to try it once, just to see how nice it is. Not every day! Not necessarily to work, either; you can just as easily walk somewhere else. Just once! Just to try it!

I loved every episode of season four of Doctor Who. But possibly my favourite (favourites, actually; it was a two-parter) was the episode that involved a device on half the cars in the world which cut the emissions down to nothing. Totally cool idea, by the way; and the sooner we invent one, the better. The problem for the Doctor, of course, was that the devices could also be used to do the opposite; the aliens controlling the devices used them to produce human-choking chemical soup that happened to be perfect conditions for alien cloning. Bummer.

So the episode ends with cars parked in driveways throughout London, and neighbours happily chatting about walking to the shops instead of driving. It was a great scene, and gave this two-parter a serious bump on my "great episode!" scale.

I hope we do start walking. And I hope it doesn't take an alien invasion to convince us to do so.

09 November 2009

One Year Ago

So, I've been a half-marathoner for a year.

That's kind of wild, really; in the past two years, I've gone from "I'm never running that kind of distance" to "Hey, it's not so bad, really," to "I know-- how about I do a full marathon?" I don't know where this kind of insanity comes from.

So, a year ago yesterday I ran my first half. It was rough, mostly because I went out too fast. But I finished, and was so happy about that. I'm still happy about it, one year later.

Sadly, I won't be repeating that race this year. Which is really a bummer, because I wanted to have my revenge upon those hills. Chad is doing it, though, which should be entertaining.

I, meanwhile, will be chasing a new 15K PR. Shouldn't be too hard, since the old one has been around for a year and a half, and I've gotten quite a bit faster in that interval. We shall see!

08 November 2009

A letter to the Busyness Gremlin

Dear Busyness Gremlin:

I don't know how you found me. I've been successfully avoiding you for years, even when everyone else has been seeking you out. I kept away from your and your ploys, but when I let my guard down, in you came. A plague upon you!

I would like my non-busy life back. Now. I am perfectly content to be unhurried, unbusyed, and unbothered. There are plenty of other people who will be happy to let you direct their lives, so just you go harry them instead for a while.

So, this is what I suggest: Go away. Only for a week or two, mind you; I will allow you to return on Thanksgiving Day. You can stay with us for the holidays (after all, that is your prime time of year), if you like. Five weeks of my life that you can busy on up to your little gremlin heart's content.

But, come January, you are gone. The marathon gremin is coming to stay for a six-week engagement on January 1st, and he will show you the door. Sorry to seem so harsh, but after all, he made reservations ahead of time.

Pack your bags, and I'll see you in a couple of weeks.


07 November 2009

There is a flag that's flown

Our office is not good at keeping up with our flag.

You see, like most other offices, we have a flag outside. And since there are no longer regulations regarding nighttime illumination, and there are such things as all-weather flags, the flag goes up on the pole & stays there until it is tatty. Such is the way of office flags, to judge by many of the ones I saw today.

When former President Ford died a couple of years ago, I got to the office one day and mentioned to our office manager that ours was the only flag in town not at half-mast, and that we should probably fix it. She ignored me. (In case anyone was wondering how much pull I have at my office, there is your answer.) Not until three or four people stopped by to complain that we had the only flag in town not at half-mast did the powers that be decide to do something about it.

Yesterday, someone stopped by to complain that we didn't have our flag at half mast. We corrected it right away, so I suppose we've learned something in the past couple of years. (I certainly have; I didn't waste breath telling anyone we needed to fix it.)

Our poor flag is so unfortunate; nothing ever happens to it unless someone stops to complain. It could be 13 strips of fabric loosely held together by a single thread, and we would probably never realise it if not for the flag police. (I call them that because, seriously, who stops at an office to go in & complain about the state of the flag? There must be an official position for that.)

And that gets me wondering about flags in general. I mean, what we have in this country is, as I've said, 13 strips of fabric sewn together. That makes 12 seams, or 12 weakest points for a flag to fray at. I'm sure that all-weather flags are made with the best thread available, but still, combine that many weak spots with the wind out here and you have a recipe for a very tattered flag.

Which is what happens. Most of the flags in this town have tattered edges. I guess that's a sign they've been doing their job. You won't catch me complaining.

06 November 2009

Friday Countdown

Just because I can... and because Mark Remy is doing it. Such a bad example!

My next 15K: 8 days
Chad's half marathon: 8 days
Turkey Trot: 20 days
Christmas Tea: 24 days
Christmas: 49 days
My Anniversary: 56 days
Vancouver Olympics: 97 days
Austin Marathon: 99 days

And before you ask... no, I will not include your birthday in my countdown.

05 November 2009

The Bicycle Came Back!

My bicycle had to go in for its three-month checkup.

Actually, I probably would have forgotten that the cost of buying a new bike from the good people at DFC included free adjustments for 90 days, but I woke up yesterday morning to a back tire that was extremely flattened. I think this is due to a mysterious object I ran over on Tuesday (swerved & missed it with the front tire; ran over it with the back one. Oops).

So, one new tire & one new screw for the over-the-tire rack later, and I'm back in business. And the nice young man also tightened up things that had come loose (I guess-- that's what he was supposed to do, anyway). So, my still-like-new bike is all ready to go tomorrow.

Also in the news today... I had a really good run this evening. The really good runs are the ones that keep me going back out again every day, even on the days that aren't really good.

And, since I know you are wondering: 100 days until I LOVE Austin!

04 November 2009

NBC is doing it!!

Advertising for the Olympics, that is. I take that as justification for me to do it, too. :)

So, I was sitting in my college speech class about four and a half years ago. It was our first speech, and "introduce yourself" type thing, and the topics revolved around interesting things that happened on our birth day/month/year. Everything was rolling along smoothly and I already had earned my own grade, and was enjoying my classmates' speeches.

Then, this innocent young 20-year-old man got up, to tell us all about being born in 1984. In the course of his speech, he said (and I am not kidding), "1984 was the only year that the Winter and Summer games were held in the same year."

Cue me, falling out of my chair. Okay, not really, but I did a serious slump. Never mind that I can remember the 1984 Olympics (thank you, Mary Lou!), but these people couldn't even remember both games being held in the same year! It didn't change that long ago! 1994, to be exact, was the first year of separation!

Sigh. So at the end of class, in great Susan's-foot-in-mouth style, I asked, "So, does everyone over 25 feel really old now?" And in unison, the other six or so non-traditional students all answered, "Yes."

At least I wasn't alone. So my cautionary tale is this: When giving a speech, do some research first.

03 November 2009

100 Days

The Vancouver Olympics are 100 days away. And I'd like to add my own "Huzzah!" to the myriads of cheers going up.

Yeah, I love the Olympics. Summer, winter, near, far, live, prerecorded... doesn't matter. I'll watch it all. The night of the opening ceremonies, I'll be... in Austin. Possibly watching, depending upon what the people we're staying with are doing. It's totally in their hands whether or not I watch the opening.

But the next day, I'll be watching. All day, while sitting in my hotel room with my feet up. You see, the Olympics open the weekend of the Austin marathon. Which, by the way, is 102 days away.

I don't keep up with most winter sports in non-Olympic years, mostly because it makes me cold just to watch. But I am sad we won't see Joey Cheek back again in the speed skating, because he so inspired me last time around by his committment to champion a cause (Right to Play). And something he said in an interview has stuck with me throughout my running journey to date:

Reporter: What's the hardest thing about being an Olympian?

Joey Cheek: Training until you throw up. Every day.

Mr. Cheek is now also working for Team Darfur, continuing to use what influence he has for the good of others. If that isn't enough to inspire me, then nothing else could possibly be, either.

I don't train nearly that hard. But the thought that others do makes me push myself when I'd rather lay down on the pavement and take a nap. Day 3 of the Vancouver Olympics will find me lining up at my own start line, putting my own training to the test, seeing if my own hopes will be fulfilled. I can't wait. And I hope I can do some good along the way.

(I don't know what is wrong with Blogger today. Please ignore the rather random formatting.)

02 November 2009

Happy Days are Here Again

So, I've had a bit of a problem with Lubbock drivers lately.

You see, I do a lot of running, cycling, and walking. Most of this city does a lot of driving. There's a bit of a conflict of cultures in that. And in the past couple of weeks, I've witnessed a lot of stupid driving that could (and in at least two cases, nearly did) jeopardise my life.

So, I produced a series of "pep talks" on Facebook to encourage the Lubbock drivers to stay in their lanes, observe traffic laws, and most importantly, actually see the pedestrians & cyclists out there. For reasons passing understanding, it is widely accepted that drivers do not see anything smaller than a car. Sigh.

Then, one day last week, I was on the far right of 34th street and needed to get to the left-turn lane. I looked around, saw one truck waaaaay back, stuck my arm out, and crossed over to the middle, where I had to come to a stop. The driver of the truck pulled up next to me, and since we had a red light, he rolled down his window for a brief friendly chat.

Since that day, I haven't been able to bring myself to complain about the Lubbock drivers-- all because of one act of kindness. To paraphrase Maria Trapp (yes, that Maria Trapp) in her highly enjoyable book The Sound of Music, "Why do we use this magic wand so little? It would turn this world into a paradise."

01 November 2009

I don't know the abbreviation

And I'm not even going to try it. But November is basically a do-everything-you-ever-thought-about month, including blogging every day. I managed it last year (pre-Facebook, mind you); can I do it again?

So, first order of business: My first full marathon is 15 weeks away. I'm running 26.2 miles on Valentine's Day. How romantic is that? I mean, Chad is running it, too, but it's not like we'll be running together. I'll probably wait for him at the finish line, but that's the extent of the romance. Perhaps we'll take along some post-race chardonnay. Ha! I thought about taking advantage of the post-race massage booth, but apparently it's bad for your muscles to get a massage immediately after.

So, I'm left with... a piece of chocolate cake at our post-race lunch? That may be the best I can do. Hmmm.

Second order of business: The Ladies' Christmas Tea is 29 days away (four weeks tomorrow!). I'm running it, and getting by with some help from my friends, for the third hit year.

Expect to hear a lot about those two things this month. And any other really bizarre thing that comes to mind.

25 October 2009

The Doctor is In

I've watched a lot of Doctor Who this week. It's addled my brain.

And straight after finishing an episode of Doctor Who, I get on the internet to read another story about another suicide bombing in Iraq. Talk about reality banging down around me with some serious force.

I've reflected before that I don't know why God's people aren't praying for peace. We used to ("we" in the collective sense; I wasn't actually there). I don't know what happened. I hang around with people who love the Lord all the time, and I can't remember the last time I heard a prayer for peace.

I've heard all the arguments that there will never be peace in the Middle East. I've heard that the US won't care until we experience war firsthand (collectively, again; that's not a slur on our armed forces). I've heard that it's human nature to be at war. I've heard (and agree!) that we should support our troops whether or not we support the war. I've heard blah, blah, blah.

And I know it's the overabundance of this fantasy world that I've indulged in this week that makes me so emotional over a suicide bomber. Goodness knows I've read enough similar news reports in my lifetime. But if that's what it takes to get me to pay attention to something outside my realm every now and then, so be it.

I'm praying for peace. Everywhere. I hope you'll join me.

24 October 2009

What? What??

Wow, I've gone over a month without blogging. Sheesh.

I have been taking a Facebook break this week, and I have to say, it's been great. Turns out, there are other things in life besides Facebook.

Fear not, any readers left out there; November is blog every day month. It has a cooler name than that, actually; and as far as I know, it's also write a novel every day & pray to God every day month. And, I imagine, there are a few other things thrown in for good measure.

Because, when it comes down to it, what can you do in November anyway, really? It's all dark & cold out there.

13 September 2009

Best. 10K. Ever.

I've been chasing a new 10K PR for six months. Last week, I had a fantastic 6-mile tempo run, so I had confidence that I could see that new PR yesterday.

So, I tried a couple of new things: 1. I wore a watch. 2. I had a plan.

Who knew that would work? Yeah, I know, every other runner on the planet.

Here's something that didn't change today: I went out too fast. Yep, my plan for mile 1 was to run it in 10:10. I looked at my watch at the 1-mile mark, saw 9:46, and said, "Oops."

Too late for fussing now; I had 5.2 miles to go. So, I slowed it down a bit, and hit the 2-mile mark in 20:09. I thought, "Perfect! But now I have to find a pace between those two."

I guess I found it; I don't remember my splits from there on out, but I turned around at 31:40ish, which meant I would have to run a negative split by a minute or two, as planned. So I was pretty much on track.

I saw Chad on the way back; he was a few minutes behind me and looking good!

I used mile 5 as a "recovery" mile-- went a bit slower than my overall planned pace so that I would be ready to lay it all out for mile 6. And that bit of the plan worked perfectly. I caught up to a couple of people who I had been trailing for the entire race, and hit the 6-mile point at just over one hour. Perfect!

It took less than two minutes to get from there to the finish, and my final time was 1:02:15-- a new PR by 42 seconds. Holy cow. (My "official" time is 1:02:20-- but they had some clock issues, so I think I may have been cheated out of a couple of seconds & it should have been more like 1:02:17.)

I don't think I can cut 42 seconds off every time, but I would be delighted to get the last 15 seconds off to get down to 1:02:00. From there, I can work on my ultimate goal to be under an hour. In the meantime, I'm going to train extra-hard to get in a sub-30-minute 5K before the end of the year.

12 September 2009

You never know until you try!

I ran 14 miles last Saturday.

Now for the marathoners & ultras out there-- please hold your sneers. Others-- please hold your ooohs or "crazy!"s. Because truth be told, the run was neither too easy nor too hard.

I knew for the whole week leading up to Saturday what my distance would be. (I knew longer than that, actually, but I really try not to think more than a week ahead.) So, I was kind of nervous; after all, the longest I've ever run is 13.1 miles, and both times I've done that I've been rendered non-mobile for a week. Also, I knew it would take me about 3 hours (yes, I run slowly), and my fuel belt doesn't hold enough water to last that long.

So, I did take it slow. I started adding walk breaks a few weeks ago when my long runs went over 10 miles again, which helps with recovery & makes the distance less overwhelming. I chose a route that took me past stores, so I could get a refill when the time came. And Chad, who was running 6 miles on Saturday, met up with me when I had three miles to go.

I did it! Fourteen miles in three hours. This week is a recovery week, leading up to my 10K on Saturday. And the following Saturday, I do 14 again, on my way to longer (and scarier!) distances. But now, I know I can do it.

11 September 2009

Back Again

So, the train from Sacramento to San Jose was fun. Getting to the airport from the train station was also fun. (Just by way of an aside, I would love to live in a place with a light rail service. That probably won't happen as long as I live in Lubbock.)

The San Jose airport is almost as small as the Lubbock airport, and a lot more crowded. But they are expanding, and it's a good thing! We were warned by various internet sources to expect delays, but we got in with no problems, in part thanks to the efforts of a Continental agent who already looked pretty harried at 11 AM.

I love airports, but the problem with an airport is that after a couple of hours, they will shove you into a tin can with wings. A cramped tin can. And this one had no TVs, no movie, and no way at all for me to not be bored out of my mind. Some day, we will have children who will ask "Are we there yet" for an entire 17-hour drive to Indiana, and I really will have no right to be upset with them. But, flying is faster than driving any day, so I can't complain too much.

And our pal Kate was waiting in Lubbock to bring us home. Yay! Home!